There’s no doubt in my mind. This is THE fixed-position Spell Circle of Teleportation.
But how was it even here? From how run-down the shrine looked, it was apparent that it had stood here for several millennia.
The Spell Circle must have been set up before I was born, or at the very least, during my younger days.
Did the Teleportation spell already exist that far back? Hell, that’s not supposed to be possible!
Was it so old that even Tūs was never aware of it?
Wait, no… it might have been possible for the Holy Warriors to create it.
While I pondered things over, the Teleportation Spell Circle radiated light, signalling its activation.
“…I see, it’s got a special formula for absorbing residual arcane energy from the broken seal… and for using that energy for its activation.”
I crouched down and read the surrounding magic formulas. As I read more and more, I started feeling strange… like something just ‘clicked’ in my head.
What could it be? Well, agonizing over it now wouldn’t move things forward, so let’s leave it for later.
Now then, it looks like I have no other choice…
“Just gotta go in, huh…”
I stood up and stepped onto the Circle.
Where does it connect to? What do I expect it to hold? I shivered subtly with anticipation as I stared at my fading hands.
And so I was transported over to the destination, which turned out to be a bizarre, self-contained space.
It felt like a room of a labyrinth.
Aside from the Teleportation Spell Circle underfoot, and the glittering ice pillar in front of me, the room contained nothing.
What could be the deal with this room? Had it been built with no entrance in the first place, intended to be accessed exclusively via the Spell Circle? Or had it been buried?
I tried looking around once again but saw only a mostly empty room in the shape of a rectangle.
“Hmm, no use just standing around, I guess…”
I slowly stepped forward, watching out for traps as I approached the ice pillar.
Ultimately faced with nothing out of the ordinary – or just nothing for that matter, I stood with a relieved expression on my face in front of the luminous mass of ice.
“This is… a person. Hmm? These ears… an elf?”
Encased within the ice pillar was a young elf woman.
She had lightweight yet absurdly strong equipment on her body. This unique hue… and red-spotted pattern…
“It’s Drynium Steel. Which means this Elf in the ice pillar might be… a Holy Warrior?! Ngh – Storeroom!”
I took out a certain book that I had composed a long time ago, a fairytale-like literature that I had based on legendary texts.
I remember having done some research on the Holy Warriors around 3,000 years ago! This book must have the descriptions I’d found of their appearances recorded down.
“Here it is! Holy Warriors Compendium… Hero Giorno, human male. A brave fighter with a strong sense of justice. Known as the man who had dealt the finishing blow to the Devil King, and as the overall leader of the Holy Warriors. A relatively young man with delicate features. According to local folklore, he was super popular with the ladies.
Damn it, I should’ve skipped that part! I can’t believe I’ve written down so much fluff! Next, next! Let’s see…
Mage Poer, human male. A handler of countless magic spells and magecraft. It was said that he was also a master of martial arts, and was feared as the ‘Thousand Magician’. Last, Warrior Lylia… elf female. Despite her skinny build, the power she possessed was said to let her effortlessly split the earth and rend the skies. From an excerpt of a folk song that went ‘her white-green hair flutters in the wind,’ it could be assumed that her hair was a light shade of green…
This is it.”
The hair of the elf in the ice pillar, too, was a light shade of green.
Meaning this elf lady is…
Just the thought of it sent chills run down my spine.
Why would a Holy Warrior’s body be here of all places?
I tried looking up more of my literature, but they were unintelligible thanks to Pochi’s paw prints.
Damn it, who does she think she is, trampling on my research material so carelessly…?!
Wait… it’s not like I’ll find anything immediately useful by looking things up and thinking anyway.
Now that the seal has been broken, it would be dangerous to leave this elf lady here.
With that in mind, I reached for the ice pillar, intending to carry it on my shoulder… Wait, it’s not cold to the touch?
It certainly was composed of ice, so how come it didn’t radiate any temperature?
Perhaps this ice pillar itself was a special sort of Artifact.
For the record, there existed a similar article called the Never-Melt Ice, but it could only be looted from a specific monster’s stomach. This pillar didn’t seem to stem from such an origin.
In the end, I put the hypothesizing on hold and put the ice pillar into the Storeroom.
Then, I went back to regroup with Tzar.
The serpent, seeing a certain sense of satisfaction on my face, spoke up as we started walking to where the others were.
“”We take it that you have found what you sought?””
“Perhaps it is, perhaps not – but I must say that it’s definitely something.”
We were heading to the central district, wherein Pochi, Lina, and Lala were still supposed to be working, but we weren’t necessarily in a hurry.
Tzar, seeming to have seen through my intention to talk, matched his traversing speed with mine.
“I’ve been meaning to ask for a while now, Tzar… how come you’re so knowledgeable about magecraft, both normal and black?”
It was only natural that I would ask that. Last time I asked, Tzar had said that “the matter can be left for a later time,” and now was a good time as any for the discussion to proceed.
Tzar immediately started explaining himself, as if he’d already prepared his answers for the occasion.
“”…It is nothing notable, if We are to be honest – simply something from Our past. Nor were We hiding it, mind you. We once traveled the long path of prestige alongside a certain mage – yes, Our circumstances were just like the history you and Pochi share. The mage was quite similar to you, We might add.””
“Similar to me, how?”
Tzar fell silent at first. Could it be that he has already seen through my secret?
Wait, no – it looks like he’s reminiscing about his past. His far-gazing eyes had a certain gleam to them that suggested so.
“”…We meant that he was an excellent mage just like you, Sir Asley. He had strong control over his magic and possessed an extensive understanding of magecraft. We have learned quite a lot from him, for he and Us have worked to further elevate each other’s standards.””
“That’s quite a history you have…”
“”And that was why We were surprised to learn that you were already acquainted with Gaston.””
Hmm? What’s that supposed to mean? Was he suggesting that he’s an old acquaintance of Gaston’s?
Well, that would be reasonable, since the only people in the Nation that were officially documented to be capable of magecraft were Gaston and War Demon Emperor Vaas… wait, wouldn’t that mean-
“”Our former Master, War Demon Emperor Sagan, has taught his magecraft to only one person, you see – that was Gaston. Hmm? Is something the matter, Sir Asley? It is not like you to trip over your own toes.””
More like tripped on nothing, to be honest, what with the path we were on now being flat ground with absolutely no debris. Perhaps I ought to record this occasion in the Principles of a Philosopher.
“Ah, of… that was nothing, I assure you. Wait. You were the previous War Demon Emperor’s Familiar?!”
“”Did Our explanation imply otherwise?””
“T-then how come you’re now working as a… farming instructor?!”
“”It all started when Master Sagan came to terms with his impending death, which led him to void Our contract. Being Master and Familiar meant casting each other’s lots, you see – when the Master dies, the Familiar dies with him. He did not want Us to die, so he decided to do what he did.””
“…So where did you meet Lala?”
“”We picked her up. Are you aware of the land of Radeata, located between Beilanea and Regalia?””
I silently nodded. Some days ago, while I was on my way to Beilanea, I had stopped for a night there.
“”We found Lala as an abandoned child in the southern end of the region.””
With so many things happening and so much information to process, I arrived at the central district with a tangled mind.
By this time, Lina has already cheered up.
Which brings up the question… how in the world did Pochi cheer Lina up with that kind of ‘encouragement’?
No matter how I think about it… oh, I see – she must’ve made a deal with Lina to have her calm down.
Yeah, that’s got to be it. There couldn’t have possibly been any other way.
“Took you long enough, Master! I’ve been looking forward to the special meal!”
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Lala, let’s go get us some good stuff! Got anything you want to eat?”
“Hold it right there! Master! YOU were supposed to say that to me!”
“Asley, Asley! I wanna eat fresh vegetables!”
“All right, veggies it is! You’re coming with us, right, Lina? And Tzar as well, of course!”
“MASTER!!!! YOU DAMNED FOOL!!”
“Pochi, hurry it up! Take too long, and we’ll leave you behind!”
“…Oh, for the love of…! You know that I’ve got to eat meat, sir! Please make sure to choose a place with lots of side dishes in the menu! Oh, and for the record, I’m still not forgiving you, all right?! I might if we go to the other place for dessert though! So what’ll it be, Master?! Ah – what’re you laughing at?! I wish I had a mirror to show you how sloppy you look now! You’re the worst! So, desserts, Master?! W-wait! Are you even listening to me, sir?!”
…Now, I wonder what I should have for dessert.